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Re: [ARSCLIST] 1/4" Record and Playback head

I'm not sure about the USA, but I bought a 4 track machine in Japan in 1959. I had it for years but finally had to get rid of it in the 70s because I couldn't find anyone to repair it. Jack

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 1/4" Record and Playback head

I was in the market for my first tape recorder at precisely that moment, so I can tell you that RCA was not the first one out with quarter-track stereo, certainly not with the cartridge. Don might be right about that Bell -- IF it has a quarter track head -- because Bells were originally half track. Ampex is said to have been involved in setting the standard, and they might have hit the market first with the models Tom Fine mentioned, probably followed by Viking. RCA announced their cartridge in late 1958 or early 59, and when I saw it promoted at the RCA Exhibition hall I decided to get it, but thankfully they ran into production problems which gave me time to regain my sanity and go for open reel. In July 59 my father went in to order a Wollensak 1515 for me but was handed the brochure where Wollensak/Revere announced their 4-track options on their stereo machines (Such as the Wollensak T-1515-4), their replacement head block adapter kit to allow for upgrades from 2-track to 4-track, and the new Wollensak T-1600/1616 series, the latter not ever having had a 2-track stereo version.

Then the steel strike came and closed down almost all industry. We ordered a T-1616 in July but it didn't come until the second week in February 1960 although I did see one on display in the early fall. The country literally had no steel to make anything that needed steel. (My father was also in the market to quickly replace a car that had gotten wrecked in September, and the only new cars that had been made before the strike were barely able to satisfy the dealer display needs. The only way he was able to get a new car when we found one on the floor that was exactly what we wanted was to take the full amount in cash out of his pocket and lay it on the table in front of the salesman. Maybe he should have done the same thing when we saw that 1616 on display around that same time, but we alreay had it on order in a different store.)

Despite that article in the Oct 59 Popular Electronics, RCA never did get all three of their first cartridge models on the market, let alone get them in the stores before Christmas. The least expensive one arrived around March or April 1960, and the most expensive one with auto-reverse and some other advanced features never was sold in one piece. About a year or two later it was sold in pieces --literally-- by the Burnstein-Appleby catalog in Kansas City. They sold the empty case, the amplifier, the speaker, the deck, the microphones, all separately. You could get the deck and use your own amp. You could buy the amp and use it with a different deck like the amp-less Viking. You could buy the case and use it for something else. Or buy all the pieces and put together a soon-to-be-obsolete white elephant.

The Oct 59 magazine came out in Sept, and probably closed in late July or early August. The full effects of the steel strike were not yet known at that time. Magazine articles about FUTURE items are never anywhere near reliable as looking thru store ads in newspapers which will not include items without notice that they do not actually have in stock to sell.

From: "Scott D. Smith"
Richard's citation of 1958 sounds about right to me.

Actually, Richard cited 1959. It was Tom and Don who cited 58.

The RCA cartridges I have in my collection are definitely 1958, though.

With the production problems with the machines, I doubt the tapes actually were released in 1958 because RCA was not even planning on getting their machines out before 1959. Bell was the other major manufacturer of machines for this system, and I don't think their machines hit the streets before late 59.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

Stewart Adam wrote:
Does any one know when the first 1/4" 4 track recorders became
available. Either professional or consumer

arclists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
October 1959 just in time for 1959 Christmas shopping--both
reel-to-reel and the RCA Sound Tape Cartridge format.

From: Don Chichester <Dnjchi@xxxxxxx>
I recall buying a Bell stereorecorder in 1958, the year I was married.
Don Chichester

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